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An Assessment of Geographic Information System Skills Used by Field-Level Natural Resource Managers

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Geographic information systems (GIS) have become a standard tool to assist with mapping and spatial analysis needs of natural resource managers. Most recent graduates of university-level forestry and natural resource programs are required to complete a course in this area, and many employers expect recent graduates to have been exposed to the technology. Over the past 20 years, surveys of spatial technology have been conducted to assess needs of employers and capabilities of educational systems but have fallen short of identifying the needs of end users. We present one of the first surveys of end users, a set of recent graduates who are employed in natural resource management-related positions. The survey identifies the types of GIS software used by respondents, illustrates the processes and databases typically used, and highlights methods used to locate assistance when needed. Additionally, we discuss how to adapt GIS education to meet the needs of natural resource managers.

Keywords: education; geospatial technologies; survey

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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